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For many Americans, watching football games on Thanksgiving is a big tradition. In fact, Thanksgiving is the biggest sports betting week of the year in the US, making it the holiday that is the most consumed by sports and sports betting. 

However, just because sports betting is now legal in many states, doesn’t mean that you should participate in it this holiday season.

Thanksgiving Sports Betting 

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of watching and betting on sports during Thanksgiving. Online sportsbooks typically have special offers on Thanksgiving, which makes betting on games even more enticing than usual.

These companies also tend to offer higher payouts if you bet on the who is not favored to win, with the intention of making money off of your losses. 

Unfortunately, no bet is made that is risk-free. No matter how many predictions you have read, there is no way to know for sure which team will win. Since you are wagering on an event with an unknown outcome, sports betting is a type of gambling, and needs to be approached with caution. 

Tips for Refraining from Betting on Thanksgiving

If you are currently in recovery from a gambling or sports betting addiction, it’s probably best to refrain from watching sports this Thanksgiving, as this could be a major trigger for you. Here are things to try this holiday season that can help you avoid betting.

1. Create new traditions. Thanksgiving should be about so much more than watching sports. Start forming new traditions that are inclusive of everyone involved. This may include sharing a meal together, baking a pie, volunteering, or beginning to decorate for Christmas.

2. Be present. Do you really want to be glued to the TV and your phone all day, consumed by the thought of whether or not your team is winning? Spending time with the people you love will be far more meaningful and memorable. By putting your mobile devices away, you won't have to feel stressed or distracted by thinking about the results of the game. 

family walking in a grassy field

3. Get outside. Fresh air and exercise can be very beneficial for mental health, and in group settings it can create the opportunity for a great bonding experience. If you are spending Thanksgiving with friends or family, encourage everyone to go on a group walk, and spend time talking, taking photos, and enjoying the scenery together.

4. Make a gratitude list. Practicing gratitude helps put into perspective what is truly important in life. Have everyone make a list of a few items that they’re thankful for, and share with each other. To make the answers anonymous, have everyone write it down and put it in a hat that one person reads out loud.

5. Surf the urge. If you feel the urge to place a bet, rather than trying to avoid this feeling, acknowledge it, and then try to move on. It’s alright to address this feeling, and know that you have the strength to move past it. If you feel comfortable enough, confide in someone about what you are going through. This can help ease the burden, and they may even offer some useful words of advice.

The Power of Gratitude in Recovery

Real change starts with changing the way you think. If you are constantly pointing out the negative things in life, you will continue to see the negative things more prominently.

Alternatively, if you really start paying attention to the small, good things, it can have a tremendous impact on your mood and your overall mental health. Here are a few ways you can start practicing gratitude today.

  • Start a gratitude journal. Gratitude is a discipline that needs to be practiced in order for it to begin coming naturally. Start by writing down 5 things each day that you are grateful for, or 5 good things that you experienced that day. Studies have shown that those who practice gratitude are generally happier, more optimistic, and more energetic.

  • Focus on what’s important. Devote your time to what is important to you. This may mean spending time with the people you love, developing a hobby that you’re passionate about, or making time for self-care.

  • Meditate/pray. Practicing mindfulness by spending time alone with your thoughts and feelings is important. You will never be able to fully heal if you continually avoid your difficult emotions, rather than addressing them. Meditation can also help shift your mindset to recognize that some things in life are not worth stressing about.

  • Give back.  What if the money you were planning to spend on betting, you gave away instead? When you give back to someone in need, you are allowing them to also experience the feeling of gratitude, which is a priceless gift.

The holiday season can often be a difficult time for those who are currently in recovery from an addiction, as it can bring about stress, depression and other negative emotions. If you or a loved one needs support in overcoming a gambling addiction during this time, our team is here for you.

Reach out to our gambling counselors who can help you refrain from gambling, or help you understand how to best support your loved one. 

Topics: Gambling Addiction, sports betting

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.